My Two Cents on Finding Your Purpose:
First of all, let's take a look at this phrase, “finding your purpose”. Wow! Talk about a loaded sentence. There is so much pressure when we start thinking about finding the one true thing you are destined to do with your life. As if in one “eureka” moment it will all come to you in a flash. It’s like chasing a unicorn for goodness sake! It just doesn’t work like that. I remember feeling completely overwhelmed as a teenager attempting to tackle this question. I think there is also a misconception here, there are many things a person can accomplish over a lifetime, we need not feel like we have to stick with one single thing. Plenty of successful people change careers or direction.
So now that we have pumped the brakes, let's take a step back. My first word of advice on this one is,"keep it simple". Often your “purpose” is the very thing that has been there from the start, it's sitting right in front of you, but because of various obstacles and/or social expectations to get it right, you end up looking everywhere else. You find yourself trying to do what worked for someone else, or what someone else thinks is best for you, or to do what is “practical” and “secure”. This is how our culture trains us to think. Follow the status quo, become a good little worker, “live the American dream.” Don’t fall into this trap, it is not how you find true happiness.
Instead, do some soul searching. The first step towards finding what happiness means to you (this is different for each person) is knowing yourself. Ask yourself some hard questions. Dig deep. The answers are all there, no one else can find them for you. Ask yourself, “what really makes me happy?”, “what inspires me?”, “what leaves me with a feeling of fulfillment at the end of the day?” For me, it was more like remembering something I used to know, rather than some new, profound, or earth-shattering discovery. Like, “Oh yeah, I really love making art, why isn’t it part of my life anymore?” I had decided to scratch art off the list of viable careers as a young teenager and never questioned it again! The result? I’ve been fighting with myself for over a decade, trying to make myself be happy with a “regular” job. That is a long while to only take a couple of steps forward and a lot of steps back. If I had spent all that time working on developing an art career imagine where I could be now?
Back to keeping it simple, I like a LOT of the same things now that I liked as a kid; art, horses, and nature. These things are part of who I am, at my core, and they make me happy. Simple as that. Now maybe the things you like don’t fall neatly into an existing profession, but don’t let that stop you. Be different, be unique, STAND OUT. That alone is a tremendous thing to offer the world. Don’t know how to make it work? Don’t worry, I didn’t either (and I am still figuring it out), and don’t give up. Start by researching. You can find out pretty much anything you want to know on the internet. Get good at finding the information you need and there will never be another problem you can’t solve.
This brings me to another piece of advice; never stop learning. Read books, listen to TEDx talks, take an online class, watch tutorials; learn from other people’s mistakes. Be inspired. Knowledge really is power. Better knowledge leads to better decisions, which in turn is more likely to take you where you want to go. Knowledge can open doors you didn’t even know were there.
Long story short, life’s purpose doesn’t have to be this huge daunting thing, as if everyone needs to make history or they have failed. Not everyone can be (nor should be) the next Steve Jobs and there is nothing wrong with that. To put it as simply as I can, your “purpose” in life is to be YOU! Strive to be the very best version of yourself that you can, for the sake of finding happiness and fulfillment. Not for money. Not to satisfy social expectations. Be strong and stay true to yourself! Don’t compare yourself to other people, no one else can be YOU. Believe in yourself and don’t be afraid to forge your own path. TRUST in something bigger than yourself, you are not the only one looking for a more meaningful existence.
“Get good enough at anything and someone will pay you to do it.” – Unknown